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Only 40 Percent Canadians Exercise to Relieve Stress, Study Finds

First Posted: Oct 07, 2014 04:52 AM EDT

A new research found that less than half of the Canadian population engages in exercise to cope with stress.

 Exercise has been highlighted as a miracle cure and is the quickest way to lead a stress free life. Indulging in physical exercise helps lower the stress hormone in the body mainly adrenaline and cortisol and boosts overall health and longevity.

Despite the known benefits of exercise, researchers at the McMaster University found that just 40 percent of the Canadians exercise in order to beat stress. They based their finding on the analysis of the data retrieved from the Statistics Canada's Community Health Survey.

The survey included 40,000 Canadians of age 15 and older. They surveyed these subjects on the kind of coping behavior or strategies they use. Out of 13 strategies polled, they found that exercise ranked eighth, clearly indicating that rather than being active people were more likely to cope with stress by problem solving, looking on the bright side, relaxing, communicating with others, blaming oneself, ignoring stress or praying.

"We know stress levels are high among Canadians, and that exercise is effective at managing stress and improving health and well-being, so the fact exercise is number eight and that less than half of the population use it is worrisome," said principal investigator John Cairney, a professor of family medicine, and psychiatry and behavioural neurosciences, at McMaster's Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.

They observed that it was younger, single, highly educated and more active adults as well as women who were more likely to exercise to beat stress.  Those who indulge in exercise to beat stress are more disposed toward other positive coping strategies and are less likely to use alcohol or other drugs for coping with stress.

"Exercise as a coping strategy for stress can be a 'win-win' situation because there are both mental and physical health benefits," said Cairney.

The finding was documented in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health.

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